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Overcast- my solution

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Some have been getting good overcast in FS 2004. I have have be experimenting with it a bit, because I get a "hole of visibility" that follows me through overcast, and then I can see the ground from above. The learning center has two statements on the subject:"Note: Rendering solid overcast conditions in Flight Simulator requires a lot of video processing power. If your computer does not have sufficient power, Flight Simulator will automatically create less-than-solid overcast layers. You can adjust weather visuals on the Weather tab of the Display Settings dialog box; higher settings may result in decreased simulator performance. If you're practicing IFR approaches and the clouds do not form a solid overcast layer, try setting a low visibility layer at ground level."and:"Cloud detail adjusts both the type and density of coverage of cloud layers. Flight Simulator creates simple clouds in 2-D, which requires less computing power to create, and detailed clouds in more-realistic 3-D. Because 3-D clouds require more computing power, Flight Simulator will determine how much of the sky will be covered by an overcast layer based on your computer's configuration. For example, if your computer is equipped with high-end graphics hardware, and you set an 8/8 cloud layer in the User-defined Weather dialog box, you will see a solid overcast layer in the simulator. On a less-powerful computer, Flight Simulator might draw a 6/8 cloud layer, even if you set the cloud layer to 8/8. To override these adjustments for slower computers, you can use the Cloud coverage density slider to force an 8/8 layer to look solid by moving the slider to 100 percent. However, high settings may result in decreased simulator performance."Ok. So my machine may be what they consider a "less-powerful" computer, but according to this, I still should be able to tank the framerate and get a solid overcast using the density slider. I set the cloud layer to 8/8, and maxed the cloud density. I still get the hole that follows me, and I can see the ground from above. I like doing instrument stuff with a solid cloud layer- zero vis approch work in the clouds. This is my motivation for getting this to work.So... I took their advice on the visibility stuff. Except that I combined a visibility layer with a cloud layer, not at ground level like they suggest. I set cloud density to 100%, cumulus clouds to 8/8, and then I set a lowest visibility layer at the same layer as the clouds. The cumulus build past the set hight, so I set the bottom layer to 2000 for both clouds and vis, and the top layer for the clouds at 5000, and the vis top at 7000. Bingo! It works great. I get a beautiful dark day on the ramp, climb up to the solid base, and then zero vis. Climb through the deck to 7000, and pop out among the tops of the cumulus. Incredible! Not to bad a hit on framrate either. I can barely see the ground if I really look for it right below my plane in spot view. All the holes between clouds are filled in by what they consider fog. The view is great from up above. Same greatness decending. Pass throught the whispy tops, and then in to the soup until I pop out at 2000 lined up with the ILS. I am still experimenting with stratus clouds combined with low vis, but I can't get the same effect coming out the top. Of course this won't work for real weather, but I have found that to be out-of-date anyway. Just thought I would share this for those trying to get solid overcast. Back to shooting approaches!

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Do me a favor, exactly how do you have it set up to make the "fog" layer in the cloud layer???Hornit

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Nine_Yards,Looks like this could be made a sticky. Could you give your essential instructions again, point by point, on how to set this up?Bottle

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This is great - and I'm glad you found a workaround. I still wish there was a way to automatically incorporate this into the automatically downloaded weather..

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I do this by setting up user defined weather. I do it on a "global" level. I set up an 8/8 overcast cumulus layer. I set the layer up from 2000 to 5000 feet. The tops actually end up around 9000. I set up a visibility layer of 1/16th mile from 2000 to 5000 feet. Make sure cloud density slider is at 100%I spent some time with this setup last night. I shot a bunch of approches. Starting, on the ramp- looks great. The color hues are amazing. On the way up, it seems like I'm "in the clouds" with the vis layer. On top- incredible. Can't see the ground. The problem starts when I go back down. Once I pop out underneath, there is a big hole in the clouds above me. I can see my low vis layer above me, with a ring of clouds on the horizon. Sigh. I can go back in to the user defined weather and choose the 8/8 overcast again. Click OK and go back to the sim, voila the pretty clouds are back. Not sure why this is happening. The sim "adjusting" for may "low-power" computer? So... I will use this technique for instrument flying until I find something better (3rd party add-on probably). I'd like to see someone with a DX9 vid card try this.

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Oops. I meant to say I set up the 1/16 visibility layer from 2000 to 7000.

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Great suggestion although I really hope a solution can be found so I can use Real Weather, Activesky, or the next version of FSMetro. I would rather be able to take off with a flight plan starting at KORD to KDEN and having the weather report stating clear skies in Chicago and overcast in Denver. When coming into Denver you can see the storm front and overcast developing, you descend into a complete overcast and come in for a landing with cloudy skies above flying in the same conditions as in the real world.

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You say you set the visiblity from 2000 to 7000 to the lowest visiblity as possilbe but doesn't that make it unlimited visiblity when you are sitting on the runway? I might try it for the overcast layer but I am just wonder about this. I would be nice to have several visibilty layers just like clouds, and winds.

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Yes it does make the vis on the ground unlimited, this is the reason I've enjoyed John's discovery and textures he uploaded Sunday.(See "overcast cloud package" in the new downloads for Sunday the 11th) I have been doing the above technique for a while but rarely in real life do you break out of a low overcast with unlimited vis. The real solution (until MS fixes this in their next sim) would be for someone much smarter than I to find a way to add multiple vis layers like your suggesting. I don't know if this is possible or not, that way you could get realistic IMC and then break out to whatever vis you set on the lower alt vis. The real question remains,,,,,why did MS do this in the first place? I truely love the new sky and clouds, but it seems like a step back to not be able to achieve the cloud and vis settings like we could in fs2002.BBjorkman CFI

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I had tried this before I arrived at the cirrus overcast solution--it is almost as good IMHO The only drawback I found, as already mentioned, is you can't tweak the vis underneath the bottom threshold of the visibility layer. Dropping into unlimited visibility under the deck is why I put this solution on the back burner in favor of modifying the cirrus overcast bitmaps.This solution would be perfect if the vis could be layered.... And it's a good alternative if someone would rather not use my bitmaps...-John

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I downloaded the textures last night installed them today so I have yet to discover it when flying. It looks pretty nice in your shots though. Also do you know if Chris Willis will put several different visiblity layers in the new FsSky World 2004? I know he said new sky, new clouds etc. I am just curious.

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Knowing Chris, he will likely address most if not all the outstanding issues with his new release. As for vis layers, the one that's available is hard coded into MSFS so I don't think Chris can get MSFS to do more. But there may be ways of "fudging it" via FSUIPC or another interface.-John

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